« PreviousContinue »
Then murmur'd Arthur, Place me in And slowly answer'd Arthur from the the barge.'
barge: So to the barge they came.
There those • The old order changeth, yielding place to
new, Put forth their hands, and took the King, | And God fulfils himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the But she that rose the tallest of them all
world. And fairest laid his head upon her lap, Comfort thyself; what comfort is in me? And loosed the sbatter'd casque, and chafed I have lived my life, and that which I have his hands,
done And call'd him by his name, complaining May He within himself make pure ! but loud,
thou, And dropping bitter tears against a brow If thou shouldst never see my face again, Striped with dark blood; for all his face Pray for my soul. More things are wrought was white
by prayer And colorless, and like the wither'd moon Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, Smote by the fresh beam of the springing let thy voice east;
Rise like a fountain for me night and And all his greaves and cuisses dash'd with
For what are men better than sheep or Of onset; and the light and lustrous curls
goats That made his forehead like a rising sun That nourish a blind life within the brain, High from the dais-throne were parch'd If, knowing God, they lift not hands of with dust,
prayer Or, clotted into points and hanging loose, Both for themselves and those who call Mixt with the knightly growth that fringed
For so the whole round earth is every way So like a shatter'd column lay the King; Bound by gold chains about the feet of Not like that Arthur who, with lance in
But now farewell. I am going a long way From spur to plume a star of tournament, With these thou seest -- if indeed I go Shot thro' the lists at Camelot, and charged For all my mind is clouded with a doubt Before the eyes of ladies and of kings. To the island-valley of Avilion;
Where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow, Then loudly cried the bold Sir Bedivere: Nor ever wind blows loudly; but it lies • Ah! my Lord Arthur, whither shall I Deep-meadow'd, happy, fair with orchard
lawns Where shall I hide my forehead and my And bowery hollows crown'd with summer eyes ?
sea, For now I see the true old times are dead, Where I will heal me of my grievous When every morning brought a noble
wound.' chance, And every chance brought out a noble So said he, and the barge with oar and knight.
sail Such times have been not since the light Moved from the brink, like some fullthat led
breasted swan The holy Elders with the gift of myrrh. That, fluting a wild carol ere her death, But now the whole Round Table is dis- Ruffles her pure cold plume, and takes the solved
flood Whieh was an image of the mighty world; With swarthy webs. Long stood Sir BediAnd I, the last, go forth companionless, And the days darken round me, and the Revolving many memories, till the hull years,
Look'd one black dot against the verge of Among new men, strange faces, other
And on the nere the wailing died away. 440
But when that moan had past for ever- When, pale as yet and fever-worn, the more,
Prince The stillness of the dead world's winter Who scarce had pluck'd his flickering life dawn
again Amazed him, and he groan'd, · The King From halfway down the shadow of the is gone.'
grave And therewithal came on him the weird Past with thee thro' thy people and their rhyme,
love, • From the great deep to the great deep he And Loudon roll’d one tide of joy thro' goes.
Her trebled millions, and loud leagues of Whereat be slowly turn’d and slowly clomb
And welcome ! witness, too, the silent cry, The last hard footstep of that iron crag, The prayer of many a race and creed, and Thence mark'd the black hull moving yet,
clime and cried:
Thunderless lightnings striking under sea • He passes to be king among the dead, 449 From sunset avd sunrise of all thy realm, And after healing of his grievous wound And that true North, whereof we lately He comes again; but — if he come
A strain to shame us, · Keep you to your-
selves; Who shriek'd and wail'd, the three whereat So loyal is too costly ! friends - your love we gazed
Is but a burthen; loose the bond, and go.' On that high day, when, clothed with living Is this the tone of empire ? bere the faith light,
That made us rulers ? this, ind. ed, her They stood before his throne in silence,
And meaning whom the roar of HougouOf Arthur, who should help him at his
mont need ?'
Left mightiest of all peoples under beaven?
What shock has fool'd her since, that she Then from the dawn it seem'd there
So feebly? wealthier — wealthier hour As from beyond the limit of the world,
by hour! Like the last echo born of a great cry, The voice of Britain, or a sinking land, Sounds, as if some fair city were one voice Some third-rate isle half-lost among her Around a king returning from his wars. 461
There rang her voice, when the full city Thereat once more he moved about, and peal'd clomb
Thee and thy Prince! The loyal to their Even to the highest he could climb, and saw, Straining his eyes beneath an arch of hand, Are loyal to their own far sons, who love Or thought he saw, the speck that bare the Our ocean-empire with her boundless homes King,
For ever - broadening England, and her Down that long water opening on the deep
throne Somewhere far off, pass on and on, and go In our vast Orient, and one isle, one isle, From less to less and vanish into light. That knows not her own greatness; if she And the new sun rose bringing the new
And dreads it we are fallen. But thou,
TO THE QUEEN
O LOYAL to the royal in thyself,
Not for itself, but thro' thy living love
And Softness breeding scorn of simple life,
which knows To its own harm. The goal of this great
world Lies beyond sight; yet — if our slowly
grown And crown'd Republic's crowning common
sense, That saved her many times, not fail
their fears Are morning shadows huger than the
shapes That cast them, not those gloomier which
forego The darkness of that battle in the west Where all of high and holy dies away.
Touch'd by the adulterous finger of a time
AND OTHER POEMS
The volume with this title appeared in 1880, and contained the poems that follow, as far as the lines • To Dante' inclusive. It was dedicated to the eldest son (Alfred Browning Stanley Tennyson, born in 1878) of Lionel Tennyson, the second son of the poet.
Mr. Stedman (* Victorian Poets,' revised ed., 1887, p. 419 fol.) pays a fitting tribute to the * Ballads ’ when, after commenting with qualified praise on the dramas, he goes on to say: 'In striking contrast, Tennyson's recent lyrical poetry is the afterglow of a still radiant genius. Here we see undimmed the fire and beauty of his natural gift, and wisdom increased with age. What a collection, short as it is, forms the volume of “ Ballads ” issued in his seventy-first year! It opens with the thoroughly English story of “ The First Quarrel,” with its tragic culmination, - "And the boat went down that night, the boat went down that night! Country life is what he has observed, and he reflects it with truth of action and dialect. * The Northern Cobbler” and “ The Village Wife” could be written only by the idyllist whose Yorkshire ballads delighted us in 1866. But here are greater things, two or three at his highest mark. The passion and lyrical might of Rizpah never have been exceeded by the author, nor, I think, by any other poet of his day. The Revenge" and “Lucknow are magnificent ballads.
The Voyage of Maeldune" is a weird and vocal fantasy, unequally poetic, with the well-known touch in every number.'
TO ALFRED TENNYSON
GOLDEN-HAIR'D Ally whose name is one
with mine, Crazy with laughter and babble and earth's
new wine, Now that the flower of a year and a half is
O little blossom, O mine, and mine of
mine, Glorious poet who never hast written a
line, Laugh, for the name at the head of my
verse is thine. Mayst thou never be wrong'd by the name
that is mine !
THE FIRST QUARREL
The boat was beginning to move, we heard
them a-ringing the bell, I'll never love any but you, God bless you,
my own little Neil.'
(IN THE ISLE OF WIGHT)
This poem, founded on fact (* Memoir,' vol. ii. p. 249), was first published in the · Ballads, 1880; as were the poems that follow, unless otherwise stated in the prefatory notes.
IV I was a child, an' he was a child, an' he
came to harm; There was a girl, a hussy, that workt with
him up at the farm, One had deceived her an' left her alone
with her sin an' her shame, And so she was wicked with Harry; the
girl was the most to blame.
•Wait a little,' you say, you are sure it 'll
all come right, But the boy was born i' trouble, an' looks
so wan an' so white; Wait ! an' once I ha' waited -I had n't
to wait for long Now I wait, wait, wait for Harry. — No,
no, you are doing me wrong ! Harry and I were married; the boy can
hold up his head, The boy was born in wedlock, but after my
man was dead; I ha work'd for him fifteen years, an' I
work an' I wait to the end. I am all alone in the world, an' you are my
Often I seem'd unhappy, and often as happy
too, For I heard it abroad in the fields, 'I 'll
never love any but you;' • I'll never love any but you,' the morning
song of the lark; "I'll never love any but you,' the nightin
gale's hymn in the dark.
Doctor, if you can wait, I'll tell you the
tale o' When Harry an' I were children, he call’d
me his own little wife; I was happy when I was with him, an' sorry
when he was away, An' when we play'd together, I loved him
better than play; He workt me the daisy chain — be made
me the cowslip ball, He fought the boys that were rude, an' I
loved him better than all. Passionate girl tho' I was, an' often at
home in disgrace, I never could quarrel with Harry -I had
but to look in his face.
And Harry came home at last, but he
look'd at me sidelong and shy, Vext me a bit, till he told me that so many
years had gone by, I had grown so handsome and tall — that I
might ha' forgot him somehow For he thought — there were other lads –
he was fear'd to look at me now.
III There was a farmer in Dorset of Harry's
kin, that had need Of a good stout lad at his farm; he sent,
an' the father agreed; So Harry was bound to the Dorsetshire
farm for years an' for years; I walk'd with him down to the quay, poor
lad, an' we parted in tears.
When I was a-loving you all along an’
the same as before.' But work was scant in the Isle, tho' he tried An' he did u't speak for a while, an' he the villages round,
anger'd me more and more. So Harry went over the Solent to see if Then he patted my hand in his gentle way, work could be found;
• Let bygones be!' An' he wrote: “I ha' six weeks' work, little • Bygones ! you kept yours hush'd,' I said, wife, so far as I know;
• when you married me ! I'll come for an hour to-morrow, an' kiss By-gones ma' be come-agains; an' she - in you before I go.'
her shame an' her sin You 'll have her to nurse my child, if I die
o' my lying in! So I set to righting the house, for was n't
You'll make her its second mother! I he coming that day?
hate her - an' I hate
!' An' I hit on an old deal-box that was Ah, Harry, my man, you had better ha' push'd in a corner away,
beaten me black an' blue It was full of old odds an'ends, an'a letter Than ha' spoken as kind as you did, when along wi’ the rest,
I were so crazy wi' spite, I had better ha' put my naked hand in a Wait a little, my lass, I am sure it 'ill all hornets' nest.
Sweetheart,' — this was the letter - this An' he took three turns in the rain, an' I was the letter I read
watch'd him, an' when he came in • You promised to find me work near you, I felt that my heart was hard; he was all an' I wish I was dead
wet thro' to the skin, Did n't you kiss me an' promise ? you
An' I never said, "off wi' the wet,' I never have n't done it, my lad,
said, 'on wi' the dry,' An' I almost died o’your going away, an' I So I knew my heart was hard, when he wish that I had.'
came to bid me good-bye.
• You said that you hated me, Ellen, but XII
that is n't true, you know; I too wish that I had - in the pleasant I am going to leave you a bit — you 'll kiss times that had past,
me before I go?' Before I quarrell’d with Harry — my quarrel — the first an' the last.
Going ! you 're going to her — kiss her
if you will,' I said For Harry came in, an' I fung him the I was near my time wi’ the boy, I must ha' letter that drove me wild,
been light i' my head An' he told it me all at once, as simple as "I bad sooner be cursed than kiss'd!'. I
did n't know well what I meant, • What can it matter, my lass, what I did But I turn'd my face from him, an' he wi' my single life?
turn’d his face an' he went. I ha' been as true to you as ever a man to
his wife; An' she was n't one o' the worst.' • Then,' And then he sent me a letter, 'I've gotten I said, I'm none o' the best.'
my work to do; An' he smiled at me, “ Ain't you, my love ? You would n't kiss me, my lass, an’I never Come, come, little wife, let it rest !
you; The man is n't like the woman, no need to I am sorry for all the quarrel an’ sorry for make such a stir.'
what she wrote, But he anger'd me all the more, an' I said, I ha' six weeks' work in Jersey an' go to•You were keeping with her,
night by the boat.'